C.J. Gardner-Johnson has a purpose and goal for however long he is a Detroit Lion

C.J. Gardner-Johnson was clearly disappointed he only got a one-year deal in free agency, but he's got a purpose and a goal for his time as a Detroit Lion that he intends to fulfill.


As the first week of free agency wrapped up, the Detroit Lions got a certified bargain when they signed defensive back C.J. Gardner-Johnson to a one-year, $6.5 million deal. The reigning NFL co-leader in interceptions surely should have had a more robust market for his services. But he did miss five games last season, as well as the season before that.

After being traded by the New Orleans Saints to the Philadelphia Eagles late in the 2022 preseason, then the Eagles fading from the picture to re-sign him as they put together the rest of their secondary, Gardner-Johnson surely realizes what former NFL head coach Jerry Glanville once said NFL stands for--"Not For Long."

Gardner-Johnson has become an immediate leader and tone-setter for the Lions, even getting into trash talk with Panthers wide receiver Adam Theilen during the final preseason game when he was in street clothes. He is not afraid to ruffle feathers, which is a reputation he brought with him to Detroit.

C.J. Gardner-Johnson has a purpose to deliver for the Detroit Lions

Gardner-Johnson played in the Super Bowl for the Eagles last season, and without taking a full accounting the six playoff games he has played thus far in his career ranks high among his Lions' teammates in postseason experience.

Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press (subscription required) published an excellent deep dive on Gardner-Johnson Thursday morning ahead of the season opener. If the Lions are going to deliver to the top end of expectations this season, he will play a key role. But, in blunt terms, he knows that's what he's been called on to do.

"Man, truthfully to be honest with you, bro, and I don’t care if this go in the media or not, I feel like, truthfully I feel like they’re just using me for what they want me for...I mean, regardless of playing and all this shit, I just feel like every team just want to use me for who I am, so I get under people’s skin and just let me go next year when they don’t make it. Like, that’s a scary feeling.”"

C.J. Gardner-Johnson

Even with the idea the Lions may use him as something of a "hired gun" and let him go after one year with other contract priorities on their docket, while being open to the idea of a longer-term stay, Gardner-Johnson wants to bring a championship to the Motor City,

"I’m gonna bring a championship to Detroit and I’m gonna get the (expletive) on,” he said. “That’s the only thing they want you for. So I’m going to do my job and bring me a championship. As long as I’m here, I’m going to try to bring one and I’m going to go.”"

Gardner-Johnson has eyes beyond football, or any football situation per se.

"Man, listen, my life, there’s a lot of sh*t that’s moving around in it, but my main focus is bringing a championship here and get the (expletive) on,” he said. “And get the (expletive) on don’t necessarily mean leave Detroit, just like, keep it pushing. There’s more out there.”"

Be it one year or many years beyond this one, Gardner-Johnson fully intends to make a mark on the Lions. He's off to a good start.


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